HEBRON — For many of the athletes playing in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, the week of practice at Hebron Academy is a crash course in learning a new offense or defense.

“These guys are all the best from Class A and Class B. It’s a big step up from Class C,” Oak Hill graduate Cody Provost, a tight end on the West squad, said. “It’s nice, because you have a lot of teammates who can make you better and you practice harder.”

The 22nd Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl kicks off at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field. The West leads the series, 15-6, but the East has won four of the last five games, including last season’s 40-35 shootout.

For running back Keenan Knox and offensive lineman Josh Hall, the East’s spread offense is quite different than the double wing running attack they ran at Messalonskee High School. Hall is accustomed to playing on an offensive line packed together as tightly as possible. When asked if he could remember the last time he didn’t have a teammate pressed against him on the line, he answered “Never.”

“It’s a lot more finesse,” Hall said of the East’s spread offense.

“It’s kind of different when I’m running the ball, because usually I’d go straight to the pile and make a cut,” Knox, who ran for more than 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns last fall, said. “Now I need to see the field and read the defense better. I feel like I’m adjusting.”

Leavitt head coach Mike Hathaway, the East’s head coach, said Knox is a natural fit in the spread offense.

“He’s a patient runner because of the double wing, and that helps you in the spread, because you’re a little further from the line of scrimmage, and things have to develop. He’s been a little bit of a surprise to me. I didn’t know he’s as good as he is,” Hathaway said.

Cony’s Luke Duncklee, one of the East’s quarterbacks, said the offense isn’t much different from the one he ran with the Rams.

“The main difference is, we have running backs now, as opposed to school, when I was pretty much getting the load of the carries. I’m pretty comfortable with it so far,” Duncklee said.

Added Mt. Blue offensive lineman Matt Archer, who played in a variation of the spread for the Cougars: “It’s similar, but it’s different, too. You’ve got different techniques, different stances. It’s a challenge, but we’re getting there.”

Defensively, Tyler Maloon of Maine Central Institute said the biggest adjustment is the speed of the game.

“I’ve noticed that. Playing out here with these guys, it’s almost like a college mentality. They’re all really good and quick,” Maloon, a defensive back, said. “We’re running the same Cover 3, Cover 2. No one gets behind us. It’s all the same (as high school).”

• • •

In the past, a lot of players had to make a choice. Participate in the Lobster Bowl, or remain with his American Legion baseball team for the zone playoffs and state tournament.

This season, baseball players were allowed to do both.

Cony’s Colin McKee left Lobster Bowl camp Monday to play shortstop for the Augusta American Legion squad in the Zone 2 tournament. McKee helped his team take a 27-17 win over Gardiner, and was back at Hebron Academy on Tuesday.

“At the first meeting for the Lobster Bowl, they mentioned that if we had something we needed to go to, we’d be allowed to leave,” McKee said. “I’ve only played 12 football games in my life. I’ve played baseball since I was a little kid. That’s always been closer to my heart, so I felt it was the right thing to do.”

Duncklee considered joining the Augusta Legion team for Monday’s game, but elected to stay at football camp and work on learning the East’s offense.

“I didn’t have to stay, but I decided to. I thought (the Legion team) would be OK,” Duncklee said.

With Monday’s win, the Augusta American Legion team won’t play again until next week, allowing McKee and Duncklee time to focus on the Lobster Bowl before rejoining the team for the state tournament.

• • •

Provost and Maranacook graduate Dustin Knowles expect their high schools to continue to improve and stay competitive in the Class C West division.

Both Oak Hill and Maranacook made the regional playoffs last season. Maranacook fell to eventual state champ Yarmouth in the quarterfinals, while Oak Hill lost to Yarmouth in the semis.

“The last couple years have been real good. We made the playoffs the last two years. The program’s growing. It’s only going to get better from here on. We should be a good all-around team this year,” Knowles, a defensive end for the West, said. “When I went and got my equipment (for the Lobster Bowl), there was a lot more faces coming. There should be a lot of growth in the program.”

Provost was one of just eight seniors on the Oak Hill roster last season, and thinks the experience gained will make the Raiders contenders. Provost and his fellow seniors felt like coaches on the field throughout the season.

“We had a whole lot of sophomores to teach, and they did a good job,” Provost said. “You have to know the offense and the defense just as well as the coaches.”

• • •

Waterville’s Kyle Bishop is playing on a team coached by father, former Livermore Falls head coach Brad Bishop, for the first time.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been on a field with him, on a practice field or anything, because he’s always stayed away,” Bishop, a defensive back for the East, said. “I haven’t ran into him yet, except (Monday) in special teams practice he got after me a little bit.”

Bishop’s brother, Cam, played for the East two years ago, helping the East take a come-from-behind 17-16 win.

• • •

Nathan Sigouin of Mt. View is honored to be one of the first players from his school selected to play in the Lobster Bowl.

“This is a big responsibility. I know that it’s a big deal, and the school is proud of me. I’m proud to be a representative,” Sigouin, a defensive tackle, said.

Sigouin moved from the offensive line to the backfield last season for the Mustangs, but was slowed by an ankle injury.

“I’ve had ankle problems since I was nine,” he said.
Mt. View is entering its fifth season of varsity football.

• • •

While the football players train at Hebron Academy, the cheerleaders are holding camp at Central Maine Community College in Auburn.

A number of cheerleaders represent central Maine schools. Cheering for the East are Hayley Pearson (Gardiner), Grace Temple (Gardiner), Megan Miville (Lawrence), Megan McKenna (Messalonskee), Kaitlyn Burdick (Mt. Blue), Samantha Keith (Mt. Blue), Amanda Barnes (Mt. View), Brittany Flewelling (Mt. View), Leah Frost (Winslow) and Shanna Seekins (Winslow).

Representing the West are Kassondra Stevens and Danielle Robichaud, both of Oak Hill.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.